TYPES AND ANTITYPES: Transcript of discourse by David Splane at October 2014 Annual Meeting

The 2014 Annual Meeting Program video can be found on tv.jw.org (currently found under Programs and Events). The following speech can be found about the 2 hour and 8 minute mark in the video. It ends at about the 2 hour and 25 minute mark.

“David Splane of the Governing Body will speak to us on the theme: ‘Types and Antitypes.’” 


The following is an unofficial transcript of that talk. It is very informative to note the differences between this, the original talk, and the Watchtower article that was derived from it. Our site’s commentary on the March 15, 2015 Watchtower article is found here.

Transcript begins:


Let’s get right into our subject: types and antitypes.

Now, years ago, our publications often applied certain Bible accounts and certain bible characters as “types” of something greater. But you’ve noticed that, in recent years, that is seldom done, and the purpose of this talk is to explain why.

First of all what is a type and what is an antitype? Well, the Watchtower of September 15, 1950 defined them this way. It said:

“A type is a representation of something that will come to pass at a future time. The antitype is the reality of the thing which the type represents.”

So that is the definition that was given by The Watchtower. And we might add that Jehovah is usually involved in designing the type.

Now, take the tabernacle. Jehovah was very clear about the construction of the tabernacle: what materials were to be used, the dimensions and so forth. Why? Well, apparently because he had designed the tabernacle to be a type of something greater: his great spiritual temple. And the temple was the antitype.

The sacrifices on the Day of Atonement. Jehovah was very careful about how events on the Day of Atonement were to unfold. And again, we have to realize that something was going to have to picture or foreshadow the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So, the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, the type, and the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the antitype.

Now consider another example. When the disobedient Israelites in the wilderness were bitten by poisonous snakes, Moses is told by Jehovah to fashion a copper serpent and to place that serpent on a pole. Now that was a type. Now Jesus explains what it was a type of. Let’s turn to John chapter 3, John chapter 3 and verses 14 and 15. John 3: 14 and 15 If you are using an iPad, I’ll give you a chance to catch up. [Laughter] I couldn’t resist. “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.” Now, would anyone doubt that this is a type? Of course not. Because Jesus said it was.

Well notice that in both these examples, the tabernacle and the copper serpent, Jehovah was involved. He designed the type so that it would fit the antitype. He told Moses, for example to fashion a copper serpent and put it, not on a rock, but on a stake. And of course the tabernacle prefiguring the great spiritual temple.

And from the apostle Paul we learn even more about types and antitypes. For example, Paul, in Hebrews: Isaiah and his 2 sons represent Jesus, and the anointed. He also explains that Moses, the mediator of the Law covenant, represents Christ the mediator of the new covenant. And we learn from the letter to the Galatians that Abraham’s relationship with Sarah and Hagar, represents Jehovah’s relationship with the nation of Israel, and with the heavenly part of his organization. Type and antitype.

Now we know that these were genuine types because, the word of God says they are. But here is the question:

Who is to decide if a person or an event is a type if the word of God doesn’t say anything about it? Who is qualified to do that? Our answer? We can do no better than to quote our beloved brother, Albert Schroeder, who said:

“We need to exercise great care when applying accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures as prophetic patterns, or types, if these are accounts are not applied in the Scriptures themselves.”

Wasn’t that a beautiful statement? We agree with it.

Now the study of types and antitypes is not unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. During the past 2,000 years, Catholic and Jewish scholars have made quite a diligent study of types and antitypes. In fact, there is even a name for the study. They call it “typology.”

The first century Jewish scholar, Philo of Alexandria, for example, suggested that the serpent in the garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge and the cherubs that were guarding the entrance to the garden were all typical of something greater.

And then describing the teachings of such early writers as Origen, Ambrose and Jerome, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says this:

“They sought for types and of course found them, in every incident and event, however trivial, recorded in Scripture. Even the most simple and commonplace circumstance was thought to conceal within itself a hidden truth. Even in the number of fish caught by the disciples when the risen Savior appeared to them,” he says, “How much some have tried to make of that number:, 153 .”

One scholar made much of Jacob’s purchase of Esau’s birthright with a bowl of red stew. Very significant that the stew was red. To him, the red stew pictured the red blood of Christ. The inheritance pictured the heavenly inheritance. It’s all… By that reasoning, Jacob pictures Jesus, Esau’s birthright pictures the heavenly inheritance, and the red stew pictures Jesus’ precious blood.

Now on the surface that might sound plausible to some, until you think about it. When you think about it you see three problems. First of all, Jehovah didn’t design the type. Jehovah did not tell Esau to sell his birthright. Selling his birthright was wrong, and Jehovah never tells us to do something that’s wrong. Second, who ate the stew? Esau did. So are we to conclude that, by giving up his inheritance, Esau put himself in line for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ? That doesn’t make any sense. And most importantly, nowhere in Scripture do we read that the event was a type.

Now the study of types and antitypes was not only common among Catholic and Jewish scholars, but were very prominent among Protestant scholars as well. The Puritans, like Edward Taylor, applied many Bible events to themselves. The Baptists and Congregationalists did likewise. So it’s not surprising that the early Bible Students, who generally belonged to these groups were also really fond of types.

And as many of us have been. Many of us have remembered happy moments at the congregation book study studying all about types and antitypes. And it’s true that the study of types could be thrilling!

So now here’s a question. If the study of a certain subject make chills run up and down your spine, could it possibly be mistaken? And the answer is yes.

The case of brother Arch W. Smith is an example. In 1886, Brother Russell published a book that contained a chart linking the ages of mankind to the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Now that pyramid was called by the Bible Students, the “Bible in stone.” They loved the study of the Pyramid. In fact, if you have seen pictures of Brother Russell’s grave, you’ve noticed that there was a pyramid nearby. And that’s because the Bible Students believed very much in the Great Pyramid of Egypt, and some became very engrossed, in measuring certain rooms and certain features of the pyramid and to try to determine, for example, how long they had to wait before they went to heaven, and so on.

And so one who was just thrilled by the study of types was Arch W. Smith. It was a hobby of his, he loved it. In fact he gave a lot of prayerful thought to the dimension of the pyramid, and from time to time he would write in to Bethel and let them know what his findings were, to support the idea that the Great Pyramid had a place in Jehovah’s purpose. He loved it!

But when The Watchtower of 1928 came out and said that Jehovah doesn’t need a stone monument built by pagans to accomplish his purpose, Brother Smith accepted it. He let reason win out over emotion.

Well, in recent years the trend in our publications has been to look for the practical application of Bible events, and not for types where the Scriptures themselves do not clearly identify them as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written. Now there’s a real advantage in looking for the practical application of Bible accounts, rather than confining certain applications to one class: “This applies only to the anointed.” “This applies only to the other sheep.”

Let’s just see why. Turn to Romans chapter 15 and verse 4. Now remember that Paul is writing to his anointed brothers here. Romans chapter 15 and verse 4. And he says, “For all the things that were written beforehand” . . . Well what things? The Hebrew Scriptures obviously. . . “were written for our instruction so that through our endurance, that through the comfort of the Scriptures, that we might have hope.” What is Paul telling the anointed? He’s telling them that you can learn from these accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures. You can apply principles of the Hebrew Scriptures to yourselves.

Let’s consider an example: Now soon after his conversion, Paul is preaching in the city of Damascus. The Jews are furious and they try to kill him. So anointed disciples take Paul and they lower him down the city wall in a basket. Is it possible that some of those anointed ones they thought of Rahab? Who helped the two spies escape from Jericho by a similar method? Would anyone say to them, “You can’t apply that to yourselves…Rahab pictures the other sheep, you are of the anointed?” No! They could apply the lessons of that account to themselves.

Now let’s consider another example, a modern one. In the Song of Solomon we read of a chaste young virgin who falls desperately in love with a poor shepherd boy. Solomon, who incidentally was still an inspired Bible writer at the time, but he’s a very wealthy man, he tries to lure her away but he’s unable to do so. Now suppose that in a certain congregation there’s a sweet young sister, who falls head over heels for a poor pioneer brother, who’s a real spiritual man but he doesn’t have a penny to his name. Now her friends encourage her to marry a wealthy brother, who is very rich but he doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on spiritual things. The sister remains firm. They say, you wouldn’t have to work! You can pioneer. She says no my love is for that pioneer boy. Would anyone say to her, the Song of Solomon doesn’t apply to you because you’re of the other sheep, not of the anointed?

You see how practical it is to take these Bible accounts and really apply them to the everyday life of people.

What about others of the other sheep today? In this audience there are modern-day Nehemiahs who are spurring the building programs we have. Wonderful young Timothys, graduates of our Bible schools, warmhearted Tabitha’s, hospitable Lydias. And don’t we find exceptional young Circuit Overseers who are like Elihu in giving wise counsel to elders who are much older. And don’t many Christian young women remind us of dear Rebekah who was willing to follow her husband to a distant land for the accomplishment of Jehovah’s purpose?

We deeply appreciate the spiritual heritage that was passed on to us by the early Bible Students. In harmony with Zechariah chapter 4 and verse 10: “We do not despise the day of small things.” However the light does get brighter. And we feel that we must follow the light, wherever it leads us. Our love should be for the truth and not for a particular doctrine or teaching.

Well how would you sum this talk in a few words?

The wrong answer is, “We don’t believe in types and antitypes any more.” We do! We certainly do. Where the scriptures identify them as such, we embrace them. But where the Bible is silent, we must be silent.

Now in the three talks that follow there are going to be important clarifications in our beliefs.

Perhaps a certain adjustment will touch a spiritual nerve, make us rethink a cherished teaching. Our love for Jehovah and the truth will make us receive this information gladly and with open hearts.

Often today we hear brothers say, we’re having a hard time keeping up with the celestial chariot. So are we. So are the Governing Body. We’re not driving the chariot. Jehovah is driving the chariot and we’re running just as fast as you are, trying to keep up. So let’s all do our best to keep up with it. And let us thank Jehovah for continuing to deal with us. And for continuing to provide nourishing spiritual food.

________end of transcript________

Personal notes:

  • In the commentary on the Watchtower article based on this talk ( https://ad1914.com/2015/01/26/2107/ ) we pointed out a few items of interest:

    First of all, the idea is given that these “type-antitype” explanations have already been phased out to some extent over the past few years, but with no official explanation until now.

    The talk mentions that some legitimate examples of “type/antitype” included the tabernacle (shadows), the sacrifices, Abraham’s wife and mistress, and the snake on a pole. The 3/15/2015 Watchtower article replaced the snake on a pole with the sign of Jonah.

    It’s pointed out that this “typology” stuff has had a long history among a lot of religions, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant. (And some ridiculously bad examples are mentioned as if they were more ridiculous than Watch Tower examples.)

    The logic behind using the Rahab and Shulamite examples is twisted and anachronistic. As far as Paul’s companions knew, there never was and never would be an incorrectly explained “other sheep” class represented by Rahab. And what sister says, “The reason I am choosing the broke pioneer over the rich brother because the Song of Solomon applies to me.” In Splane’s illustration, she never actually says that, but Splane indicates that there is some danger that the sister is going to hear an argument meant to to push her into the arms of the rich brother simply because she is not “anointed” — as if only “anointed” sisters should be able to choose the poor penniless pioneer.

    But the speech says, basically, that the Watch Tower teachings took this too far. It says it will only be used from now on if the Bible tells us specifically that it is a “type.” This seems commendable.

    The problem is that this new guideline is watered down considerably in the March 15, 2015 Watchtower article based on this talk. It seems very likely that between the Annual Meeting and the end of the 2014, someone noticed that following the words of this talk would completely ruin the two most important unique doctrines of JWs today:

    1. That the Kingdom of the pagan, Gentile, violent, insane, Jew-killing Nebuchadnezzar was a “type” of God’s non-Gentile Kingdom through Christ Jesus, the perfect Prince of Peace, as represented by the Jewish Davidic/Messianic Kingdom at Jerusalem.

    2. That the “faithful and discreet slave” in Matthew 24:45 was a “type” of the Governing Body.

    Also, found it “funny” how Splane treats the old Pyramid scheme, promoted in the Watch Tower publications from the 1880’s to the 1920’s.

    The March 15, 2015 article tries to keep the idea of being once “thrilled” by these explanations in the past as a good thing. Splane had used it to show that being thrilled doesn’t always mean it was right.

2 thoughts on “TYPES AND ANTITYPES: Transcript of discourse by David Splane at October 2014 Annual Meeting”

  1. Thank you for all the work you put into your site. It is easy to follow and understand the many points you raise.

    In the speech David Splane says
    >> Now there’s a real advantage in looking for the practical application of Bible accounts, rather than confining certain applications to one class: “This applies only to the anointed.” “This applies only to the other sheep>>
    They now say (2013) in regards to the faithful & discreet slave that the other sheep are now part of the domestics (in the household).

    I wonder if they are paving the way to include the other sheep as part of spiritual Israel, part of the new covenant and have Jesus as their mediator?

  2. Thanks for this transcripct and comments. Sorry If my thougths here Isn’t realt on topic. I am currently a relatively inactive Jw. It would help me a lot to stay in the religion if everything was a bit more ”minimalistic”. For example
    -Drop the requirement of not talong blod transfusion, making it a complete matter of conscience
    -Drop all the explicit laws and requirements and focus more on principles
    -make it a matter of conscience whether one talks to disfellowshipped ppl or not
    -Change the role of the GB to more of a supervisor and not some Pope like characters it’s forbidden to Question. The Bible itself is enough
    Sorry for taking up so much space haha

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